This recipe for Eggs Benedict allowed me to have a little fun in the kitchen with one of the gadgets I purchased a while back. What exactly is sous vide? Put simply it’s a technique where food is cooked in a hot water bath that is kept at a precise temperature. Likely you may be thinking oh great, so you want me to boil my food? No my friends, I don’t want you to boil your food. I want you to revel in the simplicity of this old, but relatively new for us consumers, method of cooking.
Sous Vide Setup
It isn’t expensive to get started with sous vide and can be improvised using relatively cheap equipment. Equipment cost ranges from the price of a thermometer up into the $750 range for a professional water circulator. The key to sous vide is temperature control. The following page has some different ideas for the DIY type: DIY-Sous-Vide-Machines/
I took the convenience route and purchased a pre-made PID Controller with Thermocouple available on Amazon for $99. The device allows you to program in the temperature at which you’d like to maintain the water. You then plug a crockpot that has a physical temperature knob, not a digital one, into the PID controller. The thermocouple gets submerged in the crockpot and will keep track of the current temperature. The device then simply cycles the power of the crockpot on and off to maintain the desired temperature. I normally leave the crockpot on the Hot position and use hot water when filling it up to reduce warm up time.
In the recreational twenty week cooking class I took a while back at L’Academie de Cuisine we learned to make clarified butter. Clarified butter is the result of removing the milk solids from the milk fat. Clarified butter can be used in place of oil when sauteing, as it can withstand higher heat without burning. It will still impart a butter flavor on the foods in which it’s used, which is awesome. I recommend using the highest quality unsalted butter you can find. European style is preferred, as they contain more butterfat. If you don’t want to go gourmet shopping, Land o’ Lakes Sweet Cream butter works well. This stuff stores in the refrigerator for at least 6 months. So make a good size batch, put in glass jar and use as needed. If you continue cooking on a little more the butter solids will begin to brown, this is called beurre noisette (burr nwa-zette) and means hazelnut butter, it has a nice flavor too and can be used the same as regular clarified butter. Expect to lose about 25% of volume during the cooking process.
Clarified Butter Process (15 mins)
- Over low heat in a small saucepan melt butter.
- Allow butter to boil and foam up, being careful not to burn it.
- The process is complete when new foam stops rising to the top, the bubbling sound will also subside, about 10-15 minutes.
- Skim off as much of the foam from the top as you can.
- Strain butter through cheesecloth lined strainer into a glass jar.
- Allow to cool, then refrigerate, it will harden.
This recipe traditionally uses canadian bacon for the meat, but can be replaced with sausage. I tried wild boar sausage that I had, but ran into some issues first go around with my sous vide egg. I found that programming the temperature to be 1-2 degrees fahrenheit above the final temperature I wanted accounted for any error of the PID controller’s on-off loop. I also inserted a cheap steamer insert so that the eggs didn’t touch the bottom heating surface of the crockpot.
Sous Vide Egg (1.2 hours)
- Using a crockpot or other sous vide rig, bring the water to a temperature of 145-146 degrees fahrenheit.
- Lower eggs down into crockpot once temperature is reached.
- Once the water comes back to 145 degrees, allow to cook for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour if you’re not ready to use, bump the temp down by 2 – 3 degrees and you can hold the eggs for hours with no ill effect.
Makes enough for 4-6 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 4 oz(1/2 cup) clarified butter
- Lemon juice (about a 1Tbsp or more)
- Salt/Cayenne pepper
- Bring a small pot of water to a slight simmer on the stove, choose one that a metal bowl fits over, but doesn’t allow it to touch the water.
- Off the heat in the metal bowl add the egg yolks and a few drops of water, begin to whisk vigorously, if you don’t see bubbles add a little more water.
- Continue whisking the mixture over the pot of water ensuring you turn the bowl from time to time. The water should not be boiling (I normally keep my burner at 1 or 2).
- Whisk until the volume of the mixture doubles and the color will turn a pale yellow. If the heat is too high you will end up with scrambled eggs (you could strain out the chunks, but I’d probably just start over).
- Remove bowl from heat, then using warm clarified butter slowly drizzle in and whisk to combine.
- Whisk in lemon juice
- Whisk in salt and cayenne pepper to taste
- Store in a thermos if not ready to use, otherwise keep in warm place covered (I used the non-burner place on smooth top). If the mixture breaks or is too thick, add a drop of water and slowly mix over the pot of water.
Bringing it All Together
- Toast the english muffin.
- Top with canadian bacon.
- Top with poached egg from sous vide rig.
- Top with hollandaise.
- Garnish with pepper or fresh herbs.